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Hi Cherry,

i just got a 4 year old gelding and he’s very skittish – fast movements scare him. He’s out in a good sized area with a female who is 15. besides the fact that he is skittish, every time he starts to be ok with me and fast movements she bites him. it’s like she is trying to make him bad so she gets all of the attention but i do my best to love on them both. He is my first horse and i don’t know alot about them but i love them and it’s to the point that i want to slug her for biting him but she isn’t mine. also is there a way to get him to be ok with the halter? I really think he’ll be a great horse i just need help training him so he can be. What books of yours would be the best for me to buy?

Shannon

Hi Shannon,

I have hundreds of articles on horse care and training on my website. Be sure to search there for your topic of interest.

Also I just posted a reply to another reader yesterday about her spooky horse so that will be helpful for you to read. (It is the article just before this one.)

As far as the mare biting your gelding, that is part of the pecking order with horses. You can read about pecking order in this article – Pecking Order at Feeding Time.

You ask if there is a way for your horse to be OK with the halter…..I’m not sure what you mean – do you mean haltering and unhaltering or leading or just general respect? Again, visit my main article archive and search some of your key words – there are a lot of articles there including a series on ground training a young horse, called the Sherlock series.

Finally, as far as book recommendations, you should probably read How to Think Like a Horse and What Every Horse Should Know and then branch out into the How-To books that are listed on my website.

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Horse Training – Handling Shy Foal

Hi Cherry,I have a 6 week old foal that has had minimal handling, for a variety of reasons, but one is that the mare was dangerous the first couple weeks.   However, what she demonstrated after foaling is different than her normal behavior.  She has mellowed out now, but frankly, I will never trust her (she almost bit a barn worker during feed time last winter when she was already pregnant).

Anyway, now the foal is 6 weeks old and has never been haltered and has only been restrained (with difficulty) to have blood drawn, etc.  He is happy to be scratched all over during meal time(including ears) but only if you are on the outside of the gate.  If you go in with him then he hides behind his mom.  He is very shy.

I’m not sure what to do. Help! Just keep standing there during feed time and wait for him to come around?  They live outside w/shelter so it would be difficult to catch the foal in an emergency (but the mare is easy to catch and handle once haltered–she’s very food motivated).

Nicole
Hello Nicole,
I would not wait for him to come around. Each day he hides, he forms a stronger association of avoidance.
First I would halter the mare and either tie the mare in the pen/stall (if there is a safe place to tie and the mare is good about tying) or have a competent assistant hold the mare. Then I would corner the foal, perhaps by myself or with the aid of another assistant and hold the foal as described in my books or (click on this link) this article. Even thought I wrote the article related to larger foals, draft or warmblood, the principles are the same for a normal size foal. Read the entire article… it is 3 pages long.
When you have caught the foal, scratch him in places he likes to be rubbed. When he is quiet, let him go. Catch and release a number of times. Do this several times each day for several days. Once you feel he is no longer apprehensive about being caught, halter him and begin his halter training.
Be careful and enjoy the process !
Cherry Hill

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